The shock closure of a major city hospital a quarter of a century ago will be remembered in Cork this weekend.
The city’s landmark Shandon Bells will ring out as former patients and staff of the North Infirmary Hospital gather at the building — now home to the Maldron Hotel on John Redmond Street — to mark the anniversary.
“We are very much mindful of the affection and strong association the North Infirmary had with the people of Cork,” the hotel’s general manager, Michael Lally, said.
“So we are inviting anyone who was associated with the hospital, particularly those who were present on the day it closed on Nov 27, 1987, to come along.”
The hospital opened in 1720. By 1744, it had 11 physicians and five surgeons, and by 1759, it had 20 beds. But by 1836, a new hospital, designed by architect, William Hill, opened and within four years it had 90 beds and 1,369 admissions.
As famine swept the country around 1847, the North Infirmary was used as a temporary fever hospital. However, the arrival in 1867 of four Daughters of Charity nuns, led by Sr Teresa, transformed the facility.
When Sr Teresa died in 1909, the hospital had 115 beds, a modern operating room, spacious wards and highly-trained nurses.
It became one of Cork’s largest hospitals, serving the vast expanding suburbs on the city’s northside.
But in the 1980s, the government embarked on a raft of savage health cuts, and targeted the North Infirmary for closure.
On May 12, 1987, 5,000 staff from 14 hospitals across Co Cork marched through the city in protest. Despite the opposition, the hospital shut its doors at 4.46pm on Nov 26, 1987.
The building lay derelict for several years while a legal row over its ownership dragged on.
It was subsequently developed as The Shandon Court hotel, before being taken over by the Choice Hotel Group which extended the hotel to 101 rooms.
Dalata Ltd then bought it and launched the Maldron Hotel in 2008.
Mr Lally said anyone with a medical, nursing, non-nursing, and admin connection to the hospital, as well as members of the Daughters of Charity, will be welcome at Sunday’s ceremony.
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